Neurotoxicity research

Chronic alcohol exposure affects the cell components involved in membrane traffic in neuronal dendrites.

PMID 25022897


The specific traffic of the membrane components in neurons is a major requirement to establish and maintain neuronal domains-the axonal and the somatodendritic domains-and their polarized morphology. Unlike axons, dendrites contain membranous organelles, which are involved in the secretory pathway, including the endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi apparatus and post-Golgi apparatus carriers, the cytoskeleton, and plasma membrane. A variety of molecules and factors are also involved in this process. Previous studies have shown that chronic alcohol exposure negatively affects several of these cell components, such as the Golgi apparatus or cytoskeleton in neurons. Yet very little information is available on the possible effects of this exposure on the remaining cell elements involved in intracellular trafficking in neurons, particularly in dendrites. By qualitative and quantitative electron microscopy, immunofluorescence and immunoblotting, we herein show that chronic exposure to moderate levels (30xa0mM) of ethanol in cultured neurons reduces the volume and surface density of the rough endoplasmic reticulum, and increases the levels of GRP78, a chaperone involved in endoplasmic reticulum stress. Ethanol also significantly diminishes the proportion of neurons that show an extension of Golgi into dendrites and dendritic Golgi outposts, a structure present exclusively in longer, thicker apical dendrites. Both Golgi apparatus types were also fragmented into a large number of cells. We also investigated the effect of alcohol on the levels of microtubule-based motor proteins KIF5, KIF17, KIFC2, dynein, and myosin IIb, responsible for transporting different cargoes in dendrites. Of these, alcohol differently affects several of them by lowering dynein and raising KIF5, KIFC2, and myosin IIb. These results, together with other previously published ones, suggest that practically all the protein trafficking steps in dendrites are altered to a greater or lesser extent by chronic alcohol exposure in neuronal cells, which may have negative repercussions for the development and maintenance of their polarized morphology and function.